October 9, 2012 12:44:45 am
Speaking to this newspaper back in July 2011,Darren Sammy had let us in on his wifes candid view about him being West Indies skipper. She tells me that I was the most loved cricketer in the Caribbean before I became captain, he had revealed.
Mrs Sammy hadnt been too far off the mark. Apart from earning praise for being a wholesomely committed cricketer,Sammys ever-smiling demeanour had earned him many fans.
His popularity,however,had waned significantly ever since he was named captain in October 2010. There were just too many factors that werent in favour of him leading the West Indies.
He was the first ever international cricketer from St Lucia,an island with no major cricket history. Traditionally,the best player had always been made captain in the West Indies. Sammy was anything but.
Many called him a management stooge,a beneficiary of the squabbles between the players body and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). Most blamed him for the West Indies not being able to field their full-strength XI. Here was a captain who couldnt bowl or bat,they said.
Rather than get bogged down,Sammy has soaked in all the pressure,the criticism and the occasional praise. Much like a sponge. Having grown up wanting to become a pastor and even gone around preaching about Christianity and spirituality as a youngster,his strong links with religion have always kept him more or less level-headed.
The almighty never puts his children in positions that he knows that they cant handle. I have given this captaincy over to the hands of the Lord, he had claimed in 2010.
Crown of thorns
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,its said. But Sammys relentless quest to prove his mettle has actually worked in West Indiess favour. With the all rounder thrust in the spotlight,the bigger talents and egos in the squad have been able to focus their energies in the right direction.
With Sammy at the helm,the likes of Chris Gayle,Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo have had the freedom to express themselves without having to worry about any power-brokering. Despite often being singled out as a misfit,the devout Sammy has proved the perfect calming influence over the blithe and motley bunch hes been in charge of. Over time,hes earned their respect too.
His humility came through again on the biggest day of his career when he was asked about the severe scrutiny hes had to contend with.
The greatest man to walk the earth (Jesus) was crucified for doing nothing wrong. I am not even good enough to tie his shoelaces, he said.
As he returns home as the leader of a world champion outfit,Sammys detractors are sure to have dwindled. The chants of keep on doing what youre doing Sammy are sure to get louder across the Caribbean from here on. West Indian cricket can only hope that he continues to heed those voices.
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